Swiss mountain grapes are not grown on top of peaks that are 4,000 metres high, but 3,000 or more metres lower, where they are still part of the intricate and interconnected marvel that nature has given us in the form of Alpine mountains. Their soil, their weather, the amount of sunshine and ultimately the aromas and taste of their wines, are all the result of these steep slopes that (climbing up) culminate in the peaks.
I sit across from the Val d’Anniviers, with its Zinal Glacier and several peaks, and the changing light in winter is a steady source of pleasure. Below us lie the vineyards of Venthône, Miège, Muraz and Sierre on my side, with those of Sierre, Grimentz and Vercorin on the Anniviers side.
Perched higher than any homes on the other side is the Weisshorn hotel, a haven for hikers; most of the time it is hard to see, but in winter, it occasionally becomes the darling of the setting sun. For 3 to 4 minutes an extraordinary spotlight is turned on it, often when the rest of the mountain range is swaddled in day’s-end clouds and deep shadows.
And then the sun shifts lower and one peak, maybe another, catches the last light, for a short breath of time.